Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Back to Both Sides

Monday evening I went back to Moraine Park to finish off Both Sides of the Spectrum. It was hot and humid and there was a long section of flooded trail from mountain runoff. John T. and I eventually made it out there after navigating all the water. I set to work right away.

The slopers were feeling slick but the temps were getting better as the sun began to set. Progress was slower than expected and the moves up top felt desperate. Finally, I stuck the sloper up high and managed to stay on, finishing the problem just before sunset. We hiked back in the dark with my small headlamp. We managed to avoid most of the water and stay pretty dry, at least until the rain started. Thanks for sticking it out John!

Both Sides of the Spectrum v12

Both Sides of the Spectrum from Paul Nadler on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Getting Carried Away

My camera is working again! I bought a new LCD screen off of Ebay for $30 plus I had to a buy a soldering iron which I got from Wal-mart for about $5. Things didn't go very smoothly though. After swapping out the screens, which was a bit difficult, I was surprised to find that the backlight wasn't working. I could see the screen if there was light shinning on it, but it emitted no light of its own. I contacted the seller to find out that there are actually 2 versions of the Nikon d50, both of which use the same LCD, but not the same backlight which is inside of the LCD.

His recommendation:
Take the backlight out of my broken LCD screen, and swap it with the incompatible backlight from the new LCD screen.

My recommendation:
Give me a fucking LCD that will actually work with my camera.

Realizing the compromise was probably to send my camera to this seller, where he would likely/hopefully switch the backlights and send it back to me (apparently they do offer this service if you want to pay shipping, and wait for who knows how long, etc...), I decided to give his suggestion a try. If it failed and I broke everything, then I could start complaining again. Lucky for me, and him, it worked! But why stop there?

Having a new soldering iron, a number of broken electronics, and a new found confidence in my electrical competency, I decided the only course of action was to fix everything in sight.

First up, Kill-A-Watt meter.

This is a device that you can plug other electronics into and it tells you how much power they are using. Very useful, but abruptly stopped working one day. I proceeded to open up the device to have a look around. After a brief moment of thinking what the hell is all this shit, my eyes made contact with a small fuse. Of course! The fuse must have blown, so simple. I checked if electricity would pass threw the fuse using my multi-meter.

It didn't, which means the fuse is in fact blow. Turns out there are still a few problems though.

1) The fuse is soldered to the board (ie. won't just pop out)
2) I don't have a replacement fuse.
3) I'm in the mood for instant gratification.

Luckily, there is one solution for all these problems. The soldering iron!

I proceed to un-solder the old fuse, and using more solder, solder a strip of solder where the fuse use to be. Essentially bypassing the fuse with a strip a solder, and Voilà, it worked! Not particularly safe, but it worked.

24 Watts. Not too bad. Will run off the car no problem.

Feeling unstoppable, I move on to the next project.

As some may know, I have a solar panel which I use to charge a battery, which in turn can power various small electronics. This winter I attempted to extended the waning life of my battery by running some long recharge cycles that are suppose to help with this. Long story short, I overcharged the battery causing it to vent gas and turn into a paper weight. This type of battery is called a sealed lead acid battery, much like the non-sealed lead acid battery you have in your car. Sealed as in not suppose to vent toxic gas...

Back to the task at hand. I happen to have and old broken laptop my friend Tiffany gave to me. Laptops use lithium-ion batteries, which are superior to lead acid for this kind of application. Soldering iron in hand, I set to work on my replacement battery for my solar setup. I removed the lithium ion batteries from their protective case and attached them to the solar charger and plugged in the panel. Success again!

Well, the multi-meter is reading about 11.5 volts compared to the 12.5 or so I was expecting. Not surprising though since one of the things wrong with the laptop was the battery wouldn't charge. You may be wondering at this point, what the hell am I doing if the battery won't charge anyways? This is a good point, but it's also possible that the battery wouldn't charge due to a problem with the laptop rather than the battery. Preliminary tests suggest that this is the case. Time will tell.

Well, 3 for 3. Camera, Kill-A-Watt meter, and solar setup. Whats next?

Lets not get carried away.